Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

How the Internet Works


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Have you ever wondered how the Internet really works? What happens when you request a Web page?

It’s more technical than you probably ever imagined. Take a look at this video. What’s surprising is not that there are occasional errors; what’s surprising is that it works at all.

Video: How the Internet Works

 

Tablet PC = Streaming TV Receiver

I’ve talked about a number of streaming TV receivers in the past: Roku (my favorite by far), smart TVs (with streaming built-in), game consoles, Blu-ray players.

But there is another one that I’ve neglected to mention. It’s obvious, really, but I just never thought of it before.

If you have a Tablet PC, you have a streaming TV receiver

When I refer to “tablet PC” I’m speaking in the generic sense. I include every tablet I know of, whether it’s Android, iPad, Windows RT or Windows 8. They all have apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus and other streaming TV sources. If you have one of these devices, then all you need to enjoy streaming programs on your living room big screen is an HDMI adapter for your tablet. Then connect your tablet to an HDMI input for your TV, and there you have it. You can watch anything that Netflix or any other streaming app offers in all its 60-inch widescreen glory.

How does this differ from connecting a laptop to your TV?

I have discussed connecting a laptop to a TV before. Connecting your tablet to your TV via HDMI is just a special case of connecting any computer to your TV. Hardware-wise that’s true. But programming-wise, it may not be. You may have some streaming sources available to you as tablet apps that will not function on a computer.

It’s also a little neater from a footprint sense to sit a tablet by your TV, as opposed to a laptop or, heaven forbid, a desktop.

What do you need?

HDMI adapter for Galaxy Tab 2

Well, first you need your favorite tablet. Then you need a means of connecting it to HDMI.

I bought an adapter for my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1; and I know iPad has one. There are so many tablet options these days, you’ll have to check your specific manufacturer. But, probably most if not all current tablets have some kind of HDMI capability.

So, chalk up one more application for these marvelously versatile devices.

Just How Old is “Too Old” ? Computer Curmudgeon 9/2009

When the SaddleBrooke Computer Club Board of Directors convened for our monthly business meeting, I was innocently seated in the rearmost chair. As our discussion turned to a proposal that we provide a monthly contribution for publication in the Saddlebag Notes, all heads quickly nodded in agreement to the notion that this would be a fine idea.

When the question arose as to who would be a likely author, all heads turned in unison in my direction. I’m still trying to decide if this is part of a plot to encourage my absence at further meetings – or not.

So, I’ll give this a shot. Computers have been a hobby and a diversion for me, not a profession. I hope this will turn out to be both useful and entertaining. Most of the material will be from me, with some help by other members.

Continue reading

How the Curmudgeon got started

The Computer Curmudgeon column first appeared in September of 2009 in response to a request from the editor of SaddleBag Notes for a monthly computer related commentary.

While I’ve been using computers since the Commodore 64 was the hot new computer (1982 !), this is my first excursion to publishing online. It’s a delight to have Richard to all the heavy lifting done with this blog before I was invited to join the party.

Once I get more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of WordPress, I will be posting the older columns in sequence. Once all of these are accounted for, additions to this section of Tools, Toys and Technology will appear about a month after the have appeared in the SaddleBag Notes. Time permitting; I hope to have some additional items to share here.

KeePass – Great Product – Some NASTY Download Sites

Let me be clear about this. I love KeePass, a free password management tool that gets great reviews, and with good reason. I started using it a few months ago, and I now rely on it more than ever. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but I wanted to get this posted without delay, because you must…

Be Careful Where You Download It

Now for the warning. There are some review articles that reference download sites that, as far as I’m concerned, deliver malware along with the KeePass program. In fact I have in the past referenced one of them as a valid download site. But some time between when I last downloaded from there and now, things changed. They now dump a lot of other things on you when you think you’re getting only KeePass. In fact, both AVG and Malware Bytes identifies a Trojan in the download. I’m not going to identify the bogus download site here, as I don’t want to refer anybody to it.

Here’s the ONLY Place to Download KeePass

The official Website for KeePass Password Safe is KeePass.info. That’s the only place you should go to get it. If you get it from anywhere else, it could come with a surprise inside.

I say again. I love KeePass. The problem is not with KeePass. The problem is with disreputable download sites.

Freeware Best Practices

Generally speaking, you should go only to the official Website to download any product, especially freeware. They’re less likely to pawn off extra stuff on you.

And also generally speaking, only download software that you are sure what it is and what you are getting. “Free software” is frequently a carrot offered to get you to download malware. Used cautiously, it’s a great resource. But it can also jump up and bite you if you’re not careful.

Security Breaches On the Rise

Not a day goes by where I don’t see another warning…

  • Brute Force Attack on WordPress Underway. Details >>>
  • Breakin at Streaming Media company Vudu Compromises Customer Info. Details >>> 
  • Dropbox Used as Conduit Into Your Computer. Details >>>
  • Hacker Can Hijack a Plane in Flight using an Android App. Details >>>
  • Professional Canon Cameras Breached – Used for Clandestine Surveilance. Details >>>

What? Planes in Flight!? Bad guys can take control of the airplane I’m riding in and change the flight plan?

Yes, they can.

My own camera? They can even turn my own camera against me!?

Yes, they can.

I suppose one could become completely paranoid over this security thing. But I’d rather go overboard in protecting myself than become the proverbial sitting duck.

If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to sign up for our Email Alerts that will bring to your attention the things you need to know about.

 

Breakin at VUDU Exposes Private Customer Information

We’ve said it many times … it’s important (no CRITICAL) that you not use the same password on all Websites. The reason for that just reared its ugly head yesterday in an email I received from the streaming movie service, VUDU.

Here’s part of that message:

We want to let you know that there was a break-in at the VUDU offices on March 24, 2013, and a number of items were stolen, including hard drives.

Our investigation thus far indicates that these hard drives contained customer information, including names, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, account activity, dates of birth and the last four digits of some credit card numbers.

While the stolen hard drives included VUDU account passwords, those passwords were encrypted. We believe it would be difficult to break the password encryption, but we can’t rule out that possibility given the circumstances of this theft. So we think it’s best to be proactive and ask that you be proactive as well. … If you use your VUDU password on any other sites, we strongly recommend that you change it on those sites as well.

We usually think of sensitive information being garnered from externally hacked systems. Here’s a case where the bad guys brazenly broke into VUDU offices and ripped the hard drives right out of their computers, thereby gaining access to everything on that hard drives.

You can be sure they had just one thing in mind … to pilfer all of VUDU’s customer information they had on file, including usernames and passwords. The common thing to do next is to try to log on to other accounts using the same username and password, including email services, online banking systems, online merchants like Amazon, and everywhere else where they think they might be able to rip you off and profit from your confidential information.

Are you still using the same password for multiple Websites?

You have been warned!